“It’s like adding a new family member,” said Leland Gordon, general manager of Winnipeg Animal Services.
“A lot of people have adopted dogs and cats during the pandemic and we’ve all been keeping our feet crossed so they don’t end up in animal shelters.
“But, unfortunately, some people have not asked themselves, ‘Do I have a stable home? Am I willing to keep my dog for life? Do I have the financial resources to pay for veterinary care, vaccinations, and heartworm prevention?'”
Gordon says that feeding a dog high-quality food can cost between $50 and $80 a month, while annual shots and vet bills can run up to $1,000 a year.
“Unfortunately, there are a few people across Canada who haven’t thought about these things, and now animal shelters have to deal with those unwanted dogs,” Gordon said.
The shelter at 1057 Logan Avenue held a special dog sale Saturday to help find some dogs in their forever home.
For $175, people can adopt a dog with a pet license, microchip, spay or neuter, basic picks, food, and pet health insurance — all taken care of. That’s about $100 less than the usual fee, Gordon said.
Bobby Kostyuk, 7, was up for sale with his 11-year-old sister Anna. They were helping their aunt find a dog, and the boy already knew which one he liked more.
“Huskys and German Shepherds,” Bobby said with a smile. “I love them because they are so cute, interesting, and fun.”
Anna said she enjoyed meeting all twenty or so dogs in the kennels, and wondered what they would be like for the animals when the shelter was not holding a public event.
“I think she’d feel lonely on days other than these,” she said. “I just want them all to have homes, because they are all dogs and they all deserve homes.”
The family brought the supplies on the shelter’s wish list, including laundry detergent, collars, leashes, and dog food.
Another boy, Liam Tardy, was at the shelter with his father, playing in the yard with a big, bouncy puppy named Spice.
“She looks beautiful,” said the little boy, clearly fond of the blond mixed-breed puppy. “She loves to play ball.”
His father, Christian, also seemed to be fascinated by the spice, which he affectionately called “the idiot,” but he wasn’t ready to take it home yet.
The family already had a dog, and the shelter staff encouraged them to come back with that pet to see if the canines had run into it.
“It’s a good opportunity to come here and really be able to experience the dogs in person,” said Christian Tardy. “There were no such opportunities with other agencies.”
Winnipeg Animal Services also offers people a chance to take a dog home for a while before taking the leap into pet ownership.
Matthew Massicott took care of the dog for two and a half weeks before he returned to the shelter on Saturday to officially adopt Cody, a German Shepherd mix. The young dog had already spent five months at the shelter.
“By the end of the first day, he came to my bed and we were hugging,” Massicott said, grinning.
“Just coming home every day since has been amazing. His presence welcoming me, jumping up and down, so excited. It’s been amazing.”
Massicott said he wanted to make sure Cody’s personality and energy levels matched his energy level, but he also did the math to make sure the dog would fit his budget.
“I just bought a house and was weighing everything,” said the school teacher. “This was probably a month of making sure everything made sense before I ended up pulling the trigger.”
It’s exactly what Winnipeg Animal Services hopes people will do to avoid endangering animals.
Gordon says complaints about stray cats and dogs have also risen in recent months, the same time period that more Winnipegers have returned to the workplace.
“It is critical that before people add a pet to their family, they are really prepared to make this lifelong commitment,” he said.
Massicott says he has no doubts that he and Cody will remain friends for life.
“I came home much happier and it really helped me find balance in my lifestyle,” he said.
“I go out more in the morning, to go for a walk, and after work we will go for another walk,” he said, adding that Cody had already made a large number of friends in the neighbourhood.
“It was great all around.”